Transfer Talk: Real Madrid ready £350m move for PSG forward Neymar
The transfer window for Europe's biggest clubs is closed, but click here for all the deals, and keep track of who has joined the big boys. Transfer Talk will continue to scour the world's media and set correspondents loose to see what's on the agenda for the summer.
TOP STORY: Real Madrid to make £350m move for Neymar
He may be injured. He may still be angry after PSG's VAR-related loss to Man United. But Real Madrid want Neymar and SPORT claim they are willing to spend £350m to land him.
Real have had a nightmare week, losing to Barcelona in Copa del Rey and Liga action, then being dumped out of the one competition they have owned for the last few years, the Champions League, 4-1 by Ajax.
So what's the solution to such woes? Sign one of the world's best players of course. SPORT claims that "Los Blancos have been in touch with Neymar to explain their intentions" -- which is evidently to, erm, sign him. And his salary will be increased as "Madrid would pay €45m over five seasons," giving him a bump from the €36m he already takes home.
If Real are going to spend so much money, why not sign Kylian Mbappe instead of the 27-year-old Neymar? Well, the paper claims it's because Neymar is open to leaving. Mbappe evidently wants to stay in France.
Roll on the summer window.
22.49 GMT: That's going to bring to an end Friday's live edition of Transfer Talk. Thanks very much for joining us, and be sure to check back in a few short hours when we return with the latest gossip plucked from Saturday's back pages.
20.31 GMT: Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino says he would like to return in Spain in the future and said he welcomes his name being linked with the Real Madrid job as it speaks highly of his achievements with Spurs. Read the full story.
18.54 GMT: Leeds United are interested in adding QPR playmaker Luke Freeman, according to talkSPORT, but the 26-year-old may not be convinced of a move away from Loftus Road unless the Championship title chasers secure their promotion to the Premier League.
17.17 GMT: With fences looking mended at Manchester United, it seems increasingly likely that Paul Pogba goes nowhere this summer, so Juventus have identified an alternative, according to Calciomercato, and it's Lyon's 22-year-old midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.
15.40 GMT: Pep Guardiola has said he wants UEFA's investigation into Manchester City concluded as soon as possible and has backed the club's handling of the situation.
In a statement, City said they welcomed the investigation "as an opportunity to bring to an end the speculation resulting from the illegal hacking and out of context publication of City emails." And, speaking ahead of City's Premier League clash with Watford on Saturday, Guardiola said he hope the matter would soon be resolved.
"The club made a statement, so I can't add more than that," he told a news conference. "The club are open. Hopefully it can finish as soon as possible. I trust a lot what the cub has done, because I know them and hopefully they can solve it as soon as possible."
14.55 GMT: The FIFA appeals committee has denied Chelsea's request to freeze their two-window transfer ban while the club puts in a legal challenge. Chelsea now have to take matter to Court of Arbitration for Sport if they want to take it further.
If you're wondering what Chelsea did as FIFA found them guilty of breaching rules related to the signing of players under the age of 18, here's a Q&A to make sense of it.
14.24 GMT: It's not often that Barcelona sign players from French Ligue 2, but Sochaux midfielder Lucien Agoume is close to signing, say Mundo Deportivo.
The 17-year-old is already a key player in the team and though RB Leipzig and Saint Etienne are also keen, Barca are set to land their man (or that boy) for €5m.
13.50 GMT: PSG are looking at ways to ensure they progress further in the Champions League next season and one way might be to sign a goalkeeper who doesn't present the opposition with an easy goal.
In that respect, Marca say that the French side are not giving up on Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak and are ready to see him replace Gianluigi Buffon.
13.02 GMT: AS Roma and sporting director Monchi have mutually agreed to bring an early end to their relationship. The Spaniard spent 17 years as a sporting director at Sevilla, and is now reportedly set to join Arsenal and Unai Emery in a similar role.
Monchi told the club website: "I would like to thank president Pallotta, the club's management, staff, players and fans for their support during my time at the club."
12.52 GMT: Santi Solari has lost the support of the Real Madrid hierarchy and will be sacked as manager when the club settle on a replacement, sources have told ESPN FC.
Solari is now effectively an "interim manager" after Madrid bosses took the decision to remove him following his side's elimination from the Champions League was sealed at the round-of-16 stage in a 4-1 loss to Ajax on Tuesday.
The defeat meant the 13-time European champions are out of the running for all major trophies this season, with the La Liga title well out of sight and their Copa del Rey campaign brutally ended by arch rivals Barcelona last month.
The board are ready to move ahead with Solari's departure, sources have told ESPN, but have not found a viable candidate to take over, which has delayed his dismissal.
12.40 GMT: Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos has netted 28 times this season and has been attracting the interest of Newcastle, among others, but has signed a new contract until 2022.
"It did not take me long to agree this extension," Morelos told the Rangers website. "My career has progressed quicker and better than I could have expected when I joined this great club. I feel a strong connection with the fans and they have made me feel special."
12.08 GMT: Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel will being targeted by a number of Premier League and Turkish league sides this summer, sources have told ESPN FC. Mikel, 31, has only recently joined Middlesbrough but is already exploring his options after being made aware of the interest of several clubs.
11.26 GMT: Birmingham City striker Ramello Mitchell has been watched by Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Southampton and Leeds United but Wolves are the frontrunners for his signature, say the Daily Mail.
The 16-year-old has impressed for Birmingham's U16s and U18s this season. And the Premier League could be next.
10.52 GMT: ICYMI - Manchester United's players expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be named as the club's manager on a permanent basis before the end of the season, with sources telling ESPN FC that senior staff at Old Trafford are merely waiting for Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, to confirm the Norwegian as Jose Mourinho's full-time successor.
Solskjaer has confirmed that his contract at former club Molde was terminated when he moved to take the caretaker job at United, so that should be one obstacle removed.
"You cannot have two contracts when you're a manager, so that contract [Molde] was terminated," he told a news conference. "I am contracted to Man United until the end of June."
10.37 GMT: Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked by Roma after defeat to Porto, the club's Director of Football Monchi looks set to leave too (possibly to move to Arsenal), but can ex-Fulham, Leicester and Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri make a difference?
10.07 GMT: Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti says he is "not the right person" to answer questions on Mauro Icardi, saying he can only work with the players who he has available. "[Beppe] Marotta has spoken about it so it's best if you go to the people who have had contact," he told Sky Italia.
Icardi broke his silence a fortnight after being scrapped of the club captaincy in a message on Instagram in which he has expressed his love for the Serie A club, but questioned whether everybody within the Nerazzurri feels the same way.
General manager Marotta said he expected to present Icardi's wife and agent Wanda Nara with an offer for a new contract within the next few weeks, although he added he could not be sure it would be accepted.
09.19 GMT: The future of Isco looks like coming to a head this summer as CalcioMercato claim the forward watched Real Madrid's defeat to Ajax from home as he was so angry about being dropped from the squad by manager Santi Solari.
Evidently Jose Angel Sanchez, the advisor to Madrid president Florentino Perez, has been getting an earful from the Spain international about a lack of respect shown by the coach. So Juventus and Manchester City are on high alert.
08.30 GMT: Let's start the day with some news on an Arsenal youth product, who won't be signing for another club because he has decided to hang up his boots. Remember Emmanuel Frimpong? He was 27 just a few short weeks ago but has quit the game. After leaving the Gunners he played for Barnsley before moving to Russia (Ufa, Arsenal Tula), Sweden (AFC Eskilstuna) and finally Cyprus (Ermis Aradippou).
RETIREMENT FROM PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL THANK YOU ALL GOOD BLESS👍🏿🙌🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/LaIYG6raw1— EMMANUEL FRIMPONG (@IAMFRIMPONG26) March 7, 2019
PAPER TALK (by Rich Edwards)
ZZ Top...of Madrid's hit list
On Thursday we were told how Real Madrid were "almost 100 percent" sure Jose Mourinho would return for a second spell in charge, but the Daily Telegraph's wise words don't seem to have so much certainty now.
Marca is reporting that while Madrid do want a former manager to return to the top seat, it's actually Zinedine Zidane -- also linked with both Juventus and Chelsea -- who Los Blancos want.
Madrid's stunning humiliation by Ajax means that the Spanish giants are upping their efforts to entice their former manager back to the Bernabeu, less than a year after he walked away from the club with three successive Champions League titles in his back pocket. Indeed, sources have told ESPN FC that current boss Santi Solari will be sacked once a replacement is found.
The bond between Zidane and Madrid is a strong one, even if relations between Zizou and Real president Florentino Perez are lukewarm at best. Perez could soon face a presidential run-off with former president Ramon Calderon and a change in the boardroom makes a Zidane return all the more likely.
Does Zidane really need to get involved in the rebuilding job at Madrid? There might be more tempting offers out there in time.
Which (Mersey)side are you on?
Liverpool may be winning the battle for bragging rights on Merseyside by a country mile -- but they could face a head-to-head battle with Everton for the services of Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente.
That's according to local Spanish outlet Noticias de Gipuzkoa (via the Liverpool Echo), which reports that the two Mersey giants are both keen on landing the player. Liverpool are already believed to have readied a bid of £25 million, well below the player's release clause of £42.8m but near enough to make ears prick up in San Sebastian.
Liverpool and Everton are desperate for defensive reinforcements this summer, with the pair having both been left short this season as a result of injury. The shortage has been more acute at Everton and could get worse in the coming months, with Phil Jagielka's contract due to expire and Kurt Zouma potentially returning to a Chelsea side hamstrung by a two-window transfer ban.
The answer, it seems, may lay in Spain. And the race is on.
- Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti hasn't given hope of keeping Mauro Icardi at the Nerazzuri, despite the current and constant rumours linking him with a move away from Italy. Calciomercato quoted the ageless Argentine, who said: "The dialogue is always the best thing in my opinion. Let's hope it will lead somewhere there is openess now."
- Italian paper La Stampa is reporting that Marcelo is on his way to Juventus after signing a four-year contract worth €12m a season. Nice work if you can get it.